In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle superstar Drake has laid claim to being the most successful artist to both rap and sing, stating: “there were people who incorporated melody before me, but I would deem myself the first person to successfully rap and sing”. His comments have of course caused some controversy on twitter – but in truth, he makes a legitimate claim.
Very few will argue against the fact that Lauryn Hill probably raps better than most rappers and sings better than most singers, but with “only” one landmark album under her belt – her success is still very much defined by one period during late 90′s. Yes, the album in question just so happens to be a historic magum opus but in truth – Hill failed to truly capitalise on it’s impact. Missy Elliott incorporated a lot of vocal melody across her albums – but strangely has never really been recognised as a rapper or a singer (a gross misjudgement if you ask me) and although her career has seen many commercial highs over the past 10 years or more – she’s never had a Thank Me Later or Take Care size album. Other notable claimants include Pharcyde, Phonte/The Foreign Exchange, Cee-Lo, Queen Latifah and Mos Def among others – none of which have managed to achieve the level of “success” Drake has (the exception being perhaps Cee-Lo via Gnarls Barkley… Maybe).
I think it’s important to recognise what Aubrey’s saying here. He doesn’t seem to lay claim to being the first or the best singer-rapper (as much as we’ve always been fans, in truth he is neither) – but rightfully observes that he’s probably the most successful artist who does both. There is a difference. And in that respect – with over 4 million records sold across 2 albums and an arena world tour under his belt – he’s probably right.